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How to spread bet

All trading involves risk. Losses can exceed deposits.

Types of orders

There are different types of orders you can place, depending on whether you want to deal immediately or wait for a certain price. The main types of order you’re likely to use regularly are stops and limits.

For the purposes of spread betting, stops and limits are classified in the following way:

A stop is an instruction to deal at a less favourable level than the current price.
A limit is an instruction to deal at a more favourable level than the current price.

So imagine the FTSE is priced at 6000 and you leave an order to ‘sell’ at 5890. This is a stop, as ‘selling’ at 5890 is a worse price (less favourable for you) than the current price of 6000.

On the other hand, if the FTSE is priced at 6000 and you leave an order to ‘sell’ at 6110, this is a limit, as ‘selling’ at 6110 is a better price (more favourable for you) than the current price of 6000.

To find out about stops and limits in more detail, please visit our orders, stops and limits section.

Using stops in the IG platform

Let’s imagine that you already have an open position, ‘buying’ £2 per point of December Wall Street at 10,838. The position will be displayed in the ‘open positions’ pane in our trading platform.

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The dashes in the stop and limit columns show that the position currently has no stop or limit attached.

You decide to attach a stop order to your position, to close it if the price moves against you. To do this, click on the dash in the stop column or select ‘edit position’ from the dropdown menu.

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This will open a ticket that’s already populated with your bet details. You’ll see a field in which you can enter stop or limit instructions. The current level box shows the current market price.

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You enter your chosen stop level of 10,700 in the stop level box. If you wanted, you could also add a limit level to close out if the market price increases to a specified level. Just remember that your chosen level will need to be at least a specific minimum distance from the current price.

Once you’re happy with the details you’ve entered, click ‘submit’. A message will pop up letting you know your order has been accepted.

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You can now see your order in the open positions window.

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Slippage

Sometimes, when your order is executed, you might not get the exact price on which you intended to deal; the price you achieve could be worse, depending on market movements. The difference in points between your desired price and the price you actually deal on is called slippage.

Let’s take a look at how slippage happens:

You have a £2/point long position on December Wall Street at 10,838 with a Stop at 10,700.

You check the price one afternoon and see we’re offering the market at 10,802. The price has moved against you, but you’re comfortable that in line with your instruction your position will be closed in the case of a strong adverse movement.

The next day, a couple of influential Wall Street banks report unexpectedly poor earnings. This causes all the underlying index futures to drop, so our Wall Street prices fall below your set stop level. As soon as your stop level is met, your stop order is triggered.

Here’s a table showing how our quote for Wall Street – that follows the market price – moved in the moments after your stop was hit:

Time (London)

Our Wall Street price

21:10:15 10705/10711
21:10:21 10703/10709
21:10:32 10700/10706
21:10:33 10699/10705
21:10:36 10695/10701
21:10:38 10693/10699
21:10:40 10692/10698

You can see that our bid price hits your chosen stop level of 10,700 at 21:10:32 (underlined). This is when your stop order is triggered, but it’s executed at the next available price of 10,699 at 21:10:33 (green). You have paid 1 point in slippage, but are protected from the rest of the price drop.

Trailing stops

Trailing stops allow you to leave an instruction to automatically move the level of a stop in the direction of the market price if it moves a certain way in your favour. This provides a means of protecting your profits. Trailing stops are only available as non-guaranteed stops.

To make trailing stops available, you’ll need to go into ‘Preferences’ in the ‘My Account’ section of the platform. This will add a ‘trailing’ tick box into the ‘stops and limits’ section of future deal tickets.

How to place a Trailing Stop in OUR TRADING PLATFORM

Open a deal ticket, complete your bet size and enter the number of points away from the current level that you want to set your stop.

Tick the ‘trailing’ box. (The guaranteed stop box will now become unavailable.)

Ticking the ‘trailing’ box brings up an extra field. This is because there’s an extra condition you’ll need to set for this kind of stop: the step. This is the increment by which the market needs to move before the stop level is adjusted in your favour – if the movement is smaller than your specified step, your stop won’t change position. The minimum step you can add might vary depending on market conditions.

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Click ‘Buy’ and you’ll receive confirmation of your deal. You’ll see the details of your trailing stop in the ‘stop type’ row.

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When you look at the open positions window, the stop column displays the current level of your stop. The Type column next to it will show a T to indicate that it’s a trailing stop, and the number in brackets shows the step. You can alter your trailing stop by clicking in either of these columns.

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Attaching a guaranteed stop

When you enter the details of your stop, tick the guaranteed stop box. Choosing a guaranteed stop will cause the deposit requirement to change, and this includes the fee we'll charge if your guaranteed stop is triggered.

In your open positions window, the stop column displays the current level of your stop, and the type column next to it will show a G to indicate that it’s a guaranteed stop.

Stop order to open a new position

You might decide that you want to open a position if the market hits a certain level. This could be because your chart pattern analysis suggests that a market will move in a certain way if it breaks a particular level. Instead of constantly watching the market, you can set a stop or limit to open a position if your conditions are met.

How to set up a Stop order to open a new position

After choosing your market, open the order screen by selecting ‘orders to open’ from the dropdown menu next to the market’s name. The order screen will open, populated with the market you’ve chosen and the current bid/offer prices.

Type in the level at which you want to open your position, and choose whether you want to ‘Buy’ or ‘Sell’. As soon as you select ‘Buy’ or ‘Sell’, the ‘type’ field will populate with either stop or limit. This is worked out automatically when you specify the level at which you want to ’Buy’ or ‘Sell’, because it’s immediately clear whether your chosen price is a more favourable or less favourable level than the current price.

Next, enter your bet size. You also have the option to enter a specific time for the order to expire if it hasn’t been fulfilled. Alternatively, you can leave the order open until you cancel it – this is known as good till cancelled.

Once you’re happy with the details of your bet, click ‘submit’. You’ll see a message telling you that your order has been accepted.

Timeframes for orders

When setting an order, aside from the specified market level, bet size and whether you’re setting a stop or a limit, you’ll also need to decide how long you want the order to stay working for. You might want the order to last for a few hours, a day, or indefinitely.

Orders will either be GTC (good till cancelled) or good till your specified time.

Good Till Cancelled

The default setting is ‘good till cancelled’ which means that the order will stay open until one of the following occurs:

- you cancel it
- the order is filled
- the period for that market expires (in the case of futures bets)

If you hold a daily funded bet (DFB), the order will continue to work until it’s filled, the contract expires or you instruct otherwise.

Good till a specified time

If you want your stop or limit order to be cancelled if your target level isn’t met before a given time, you’ll need to enter an expiry date and time.